Proboscis Monkeys and Hikes in Bako National Park, Borneo

Just say the word ‘National Park’ and I’m sold. I love being surrounded by nature and therefore would have found it hard not to fall in love with Bako National Park in Borneo. I stayed there for a couple of days and adored the remoteness and tranquillity of the place. I think it’s actually my favourite place I stayed in Borneo, including in the middle of the rainforest, mainly because of the abundance of wildlife. Wildlife and nature are the main things I like to travel for which is probably why I loved Bako National Park so much.

Stopping at Bako National Park was part of my tour through Borneo with The Great Projects. Before the national park, I volunteered with orangutans and afterwards, I visited many unique places including Batang Ai Rainforest.

To get to Bako National Park, we needed to take a small boat which could only go at certain times of the day because of the tides. This meant that once we arrived. there was no way out until the tide was back. I loved being in the middle of nowhere. The scenery along the way consisted of trees popping out of the water and endless greenery. 

As soon as we arrived, we spotted a proboscis monkey relaxing in a tree. You may recognise this monkey through their distinctive large nose. The population of these proboscis monkeys has decreased by 80% over the last three years and is continuing to decrease. Knowing this, it was heart-warming to see one in the wild looking peaceful and free. The proboscis monkey we saw was high up in the tree watching over us. It was the perfect start to my time in Bako National Park. 

A proboscis monkey sitting in the trees

Soon after we arrived, we went on a hike to a stunning cove beach. The trek included a lot of steep inclines and I had to keep my head down most of the way due to the vines over the floor. The humidity throughout was a struggle but the cove at the end was stunning. We stayed there for a while to admire the view. We couldn’t actually go down there because of the crocodiles but what a site to see. There was supposed to be a boat to take us back yet it didn’t turn up so we turned and hiked back instead.

The beach cove which we hiked to

On our way back from the hike we spotted a bearded pig and piglets on the beach. There were also thousands of tiny crabs perfectly camouflaged with the sand. All I needed to do was focus on one spot in the sand and one of the tiny crabs would soon appear.

Bearded pigs on the beach

Dinner was spent watching the sunset over the beach whilst little makaque monkeys were playing in the trees. We spotted a few babies among the group. The dinner was a buffet-style and wasn’t the best meal we had in Borneo but it was suffice.

A baby makaque monkey in Bako National Park

In the evening, we went on a night walk which was an experience like no other. There was a guide at the front of our group and a guide at the back. They would regularly spot and show us whichever creature they had spotted. Along the board walk we saw many tiny brown tree frogs. We also spotted many other creatures including tarantulas, poisonous green frogs, huntsman spiders, cat fish and much more. To top it all off, on the way back we spotted a male flying lemur. I could barely make it out at first as it was so still and clung onto the bark of a tree but then it started moving and we were able to witness it glide from tree to tree. It was special to watch and one of my favourite wildlife moments. After a while, a large female turned up too.

A makaque climbing in the trees

The next morning, we woke up early to see if we could spot and more proboscis monkeys as this is when they are most active. We didn’t see any but we did spot more makaques so we watched them play for a while. There was another baby one who seemed absolutely tiny. We also watched the sunrise over the glistening beach.

Sunrise at the beach in Bako National Park

Overall, my stay in Bako National Park exceeded my expectations. Out of all the places I visited on my tour through Borneo, it’s the place where I saw the most wildlife. There were wonderful walks around the national park and our accommodation was just a stone’s throw away from the beach. I loved the fact that we were in the middle of nowhere and there were only a handful of tourists there. It was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

How to Get There

I travelled to Bako National Park on a tour but there’s a bus that goes to the boat statino from Kuching (where you can fly into). If the tide is low, you may have to jump out of the boat and into the water to the beach. If the tide is high when you arrive (like it was for me), you can step out and onto the platform.

Tell me: What’s your favourite national park that you’ve visited? Would you like to visit Bako National Park?

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